Town is right behind St Ives’ Wembley bid
HUNDREDS of football fans will pack into St Ives Town s Westwood Road ground on Saturday as the club aims to take the next step on the road to Wembley. Just 16 teams remain in the FA Vase and Ridgeons League leaders Needham Market stand between St Ives an
HUNDREDS of football fans will pack into St Ives Town's Westwood Road ground on Saturday as the club aims to take the next step on the road to Wembley.
Just 16 teams remain in the FA Vase and Ridgeons League leaders Needham Market stand between St Ives and the quarter finals.
"We simply cannot wait," said Town joint-manager Jez Hall. "We are still in other cup competitions but the Vase has dominated our season and we know that we have the full support of the town behind us."
Hall knows that his side will have to start better than they did in the fourth round victory against Bitton a fortnight ago, when they fell two goals behind in 20 minutes.
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"There's no doubt Needham are going to be the toughest team we have faced so far," Hall said. "We can't afford another slow start because they are a very skilful side who will punish us if we let them."
Hall and fellow joint-manager Warren Everdell's men have already negotiated five rounds to reach this stage, collecting £5,000 in prize money.
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Having attracted more than 300 fans for each of their last two home ties in the competition, Town have sent out 1,200 free tickets to local schools in a bid to achieve their highest-ever attendance - and are laying on extra stewards to cope.
Hall said: "Everywhere we go people are telling us they are right behind us and willing us on, which is great for the lads to hear.
"We have had great support from other clubs, sending messages and even helping out with preparing the pitch. There is an atmosphere around this game that none of us have ever experienced before.
"It is the biggest game in the club's history - this is what we are all involved in football for and we believe if we can beat Needham we can beat anybody."
Hall said he expects the muddy surface at Westwood Road to benefit the home side more than their high-flying visitors.
On the field, cup-tied Carl Foreman is unavailable for St Ives while Craig Smith took a knock in Saturday's win at Huntingdon United RGE but is hopeful of recovering.
Hall said: "We know the majority of what the team will be, but there are one or two areas where we are still scratching our heads and we have some tough decisions to make."
Liam Kennett, who scored the equalising goal in the final minute of the previous round against Bitton, said: "The lads are buzzing. We cannot wait for Saturday to come - we know it will be tough but we are all looking forward to it."
* The match at Westwood Road kicks off at 3pm.
The ground is next door to the Ivo Indoor Centre - from the A1123, turn down Ramsey Road towards the town centre and Westwood Road is the second turn on the right.